Tuesday, January 08, 2008

January 3, 2008: Chocolate and zucchini pasta

Zucchini #3 was devoted to a recipe from Ms Chocolate & Zucchini herself, Clotilde Dusoulier. She miraculously managed to develop a savoury recipe featuring the title ingredients of her blog - pasta with zucchini slices and a sprinkling of unsweetened cocoa nibs. This isn't all that's unusual about the dish. Clotilde also introduced me to the absorption method of cooking pasta. Similar to risotto, the pasta is thinly coated with olive oil in the pan before absorbing water or stock until done. Rather than gradually adding the stock and stirring continuously, most of the stock goes in at once and the pasta needs only an occasional, relaxed stir.

The use of stock brings extra flavour to the pasta and I liked adding the veges in to cook with it, making it a one-pot meal. But the real flavour revelation is the cocoa garnish! It adds a depth and darkness to an otherwise mildly flavoured dish, playing the role I'd usually hand to mushrooms. As much as I love parmesan, it's best to add it here with a light hand - its combination with cocoa nibs is surprisingly rich.

Clotilde posted this as a meal-for-one on her blog some time ago, and it's also printed in her first cookbook to serve 4 (this is the version I referred to).

Chocolate and zucchini pasta

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
400-500g dried short pasta
6 cups stock (I only actually used about 4 cups)
1 enormous zucchini (or 4 small, or 2-3 medium), slicely finely into rounds
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs, coarsely crushed
grated parmesan

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and onion, cooking for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Next add the pasta and stir thoroughly so that the pasta is evenly coated in the oil. Pour in stock to cover the pasta and set aside the rest. Turn the heat down and simmer the pasta with the lid on, giving it the occasional stir for even cooking. After about 5 minutes add the zucchini.

Continue simmering the pasta with occasional stirring. The pasta will start absorbing the stock and the stirring becomes more important to ensure even absorption as the liquid level decreases. After about 5 more minutes, test the pasta for texture. Add more stock or water if the pasta is dry but not finished, and repeat the covered simmering and stirring until it is al dente.

Season to taste and serve sprinkled with cocoa nibs and parmesan.


  1. Wow that looks amazing - I have been eyeing off this book in the shops and wondering if I should buy it - now I feel like running out and buying the book and some cocoa nibs!!!

  2. Happy New Year to you both.

    Never, ever have I come cross that method of cooking pasta - will give it a go over weekend. Thnks for the introduction.

  3. Johanna, if you don't buy the book I would recommend at least borrowing it from the library (which is what I did). Every recipe comes with an introductory story in Clotilde's distinctive and charming style, and even though it's not completely vegetarian there are many lovely meat-free dishes inside.

    Happy new year, Lucy! The method is new to me, too, though Clotilde writes that it's centuries old. I'll still be boiling some of my pasta, but it's a great alternative when you're not preparing a fancy sauce.

  4. During the summer my garden is absolutely over run with zucchini, I make zucchini everything, I have to beg people to take zucchini home with them when they come visit, and yet, in the winter, I miss it. I miss it, but I can't bring myself to buy it at the grocery store because all I can picture are monster zucchinis hiding under the snow in my garden, threatening to destroy me if I even consider buying a zucchini.

  5. Brilynn, I think you have just written the synopsis of a great B-grade horror movie. :-D

    "Attack of the Jealous Zucchini", perhaps?